What I Learned in Oxford
By Miriam Marston
$5.99 (Kindle Edition)
An IFLit review by Sarah Mankowski
I cannot write an unbiased review of Miriam Marston’s What I Learn in Oxford. At the time of the reading, I was already in love with her album The Luggage of an Optimist. Her beautiful voice and thoughtful lyrics resonate with every listen, anew.
The album was inspired by the works of G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis. Miriam’s story of two years living in Oxford, England provided a better understanding of the background to some of the lyrics.
Finding herself at loose ends, after completing college, Miriam decided to move to Oxford, England. To be clear, she was moving to the town, not attending the university. She writes:
“And as if to seal the matter altogether, my favorite literary duo was from that general area: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I blame their wit and wisdom for conspiring to draw me into that country.”
Miriam quickly finds herself enrolled in the “Oxford school of life”. There is much to learn about life in this English town from finding employment to making an acceptable cup of tea.
As one who only knows Oxford from books, and then mostly from the writings of C.S. Lewis, I enjoyed her first-hand accounts very much. Her honest “little stories” gave me a much better feel for the town, and for the challenges facing a young American living abroad.
What I Learned in OxfordBy Miriam Marston
Book Description form Amazon
There are places that you love and there are places where you belong. It’s a curious thing that they’re not always the same….
Miriam was not so different from her peers of the class of 2003. She left college, prepared to take on the world, armed with optimism and a liberal arts degree. But when her “Plan A” fell through, she decided to move to Oxford on a calculated whim. She thought her enrollment in the Oxford school of life would involve an unhurried and scholarly pace, but the two years that followed could not have been further from her expectations. “What I Learned in Oxford” recounts this disparity between reality and expectation, through a series of humorous and poignant vignettes including: the establishment of an invented college, a rigorous education in serving English tea, struggles with unemployment (and bad employment), epiphanies while singing Rachmaninov in an overheated concert hall, accidentally becoming a Mormon investigator, and countless hours playing the card game Solitaire. This is a little story of how Providence works and weaves its way through our lives, bringing us Home, even if it feels like the journey is going inch by inch, and via a dozen detours. With this in mind, Miriam shows the reader how Oxford is certainly a place of education, but in more ways than one.